The Truth Be Told

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Preview

      The following is an episode of the Young Hercules Fan Fiction Seasons, a non-profit virtual season project; written for fans by fans this is done to help keep the legacy of the short-lived television series Young Hercules alive on the Internet. The overall direction of the story that takes place in this virtual season may not be exactly what took place if an actual televised season had been produced.

ON THE NEXT YOUNG HERCULES:

(Hercules storms down the path to Corinth on a trail of vengeance)
(Theseus, Lilth, and Jason look very concerned)
VENGEANCE IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD
Hercules: "I'm going to kill him!"
(Shackled hands and feet, Iolaus is dragged into a prison cell)
Iolaus: "I didn't kill Megaera, Hercules, I didn't!"
AND THIS TIME ITS SERVER IS AN ANGRY HALF-GOD
(Hercules' face turns red as he throws two bullies together)
(Iolaus runs, and Hercules stops him by hitting him hard)
Waylan: "If found guilty, your friend will be executed"
(A wicked grin flashes across Hercules' face as he draws a knife)
(Shackled in an ancient prison torchure chair, Iolaus screams)
(Hercules brutally smacks Iolaus across the face as Iolaus pleads)
Ares: "I kind of like this new Hercules"
(The Furies laugh as they watch Hercules let out a hateful scream)
DON'T MISS YOUNG HERCULES' MOST DRAMATIC EXPLOIT YET

UP NEXT!

Teaser

      Dark clouds loomed over Mount Olympus this solemn morning. In the chamber of the gods, the wicked Hera stood over her reflecting waters, watching events from the past transpire for her pleased eyes one more time . . .

      "Shh." Herk whispered, holding Meg close. Enjoying the feel of her soft body against his, the young man forced himself to focus on the problem. "I won't let him do this to you Meg."

      "Hercules, I don't have a choice! I'm not old enough to protest it!" Meg pulled away, her lovely face streaked with tears when she thought of what her father wanted her to do, marry someone she didn't want to.

      "Why is he doing this?" Hercules demanded. "If he waits he can throw you out with no obligation."

      "I don't know." Meg sobbed.

      Herk turned towards Iolaus who stood several feet away, arms crossed over his chest, glaring at the couple. No help there.

      "He wants me gone, he called me a tramp! He can save his own reputation if he marries me off instead of just throwing me out."

      Hercules had always envied Meg for having a father who at least cared enough about her to get angry. His own father had never even made himself known to Hercules, and for that, Hercules could hate Zeus if he allowed himself to.

      "It'll be okay." he said quietly. "We'll figure it out."

      Iolaus stood to the side, glowering towards them. The distance between the boys had just gone from a foot to a mile.

---

      "Oh, Mother, you are brilliant!" Ares praised. The familiar vision of Hera's peacock eyes hovered close-by. "Your plan to bring down Hercules is just brilliant. Using one of your very own priestesses to get to him." He sobered and held a hand to his chest, saying in a heartfelt manner, "I am so proud to be your son."

      "I saw the potential from the beginning." Hera's voice evidenced that she was pleased, both with herself and Ares' approval. "And now paths so carefully guided are about to meet."

      "Tell me again." Ares leaned forward eagerly.

      "The rift between Hercules and Iolaus is wide and raw. The girl's steady presence now keeps it so. Soon it will come time to carry out the fatal step and Hercules will be destroyed. First in spirit -- in body soon to follow."

---

      Iolaus pondered the knives. His blade was almost worn out, and he had been saving for a new one. Though the ivory handled blade kept drawing his eyes back, Iolaus knew it was well out of his budget. Keeping his eyes focused on the sturdier, cheaper knives, he lifted them one by one, examining every inch, from every angle.

      "That's a fine blade there boy. Watched it forged myself." the vendor replied. "Me brother does most of the forging. Some say he rivals Hephaestus. .."

      Iolaus tuned the man out and he pretended to take aim with the knife. It was a fine blade. . .though he doubted it could rival Heph's blades. This one felt particularly smooth. The cool metal was almost silken againt the skin of his finger.

      Out of habit he turned to Hercules, then remembered Herk was somewhere with Meg. Sighing, he asked the merchant for the price.

---

      Hercules and Meg settled onto the grassy bank of the lake, watching the sun begin its slow descent. Hercules had his arm around Meg's shoulders securely and she rested her head on his shoulder.

      "I don't want to go back." she sighed.

      "Then come with me to Cheiron's. We can hide you there. I doubt your father will come looking for you."

      "And do what? I have no skills Herk. I would be of no use."

      "You'd be safe. At least until I come up with a plan."

      "I would be a burden."

      "Not for me."

      "Father says arranged marriages are common and I have no say in the matter, as I'm a girl. Besides, I think you and Iolaus need time together."

      "We're always together." Hercules said, irritated.

      "To work out your problems. You've been friends a long time, and that's an expensive thing to lose."

      "Iolaus will get over whatver it is soon enough. Besides, I have you." Herk brushed a lock of her hair from her deep blue eyes.

      "For a month." she reminded him with a sigh. Hercules sat up straight.

      "No. Forever."

      "What are you talking about? The wedding is in a month." Meg looked puzzled. Hercules grinned and took her hands in his.

      "Meg, will you marry me?" he asked breathlessly.

---

      Iolaus waited for Hercules at the city edge. They had stashed their supplies for a while so Herk and Meg could be alone. Impatiently Iolaus entertained himself with his new knife, practicing his combat skills to get the feel of the new blade.

      Eight inches of hardened steel, the edge honed to slice through silk, its hilt solid oak, burnished and polished to a high gloss, Iolaus was enjoying himself immensely as he darted around, fighting invisible enemies. The hilt was engraved with intricate markings that Iolaus had run his fingers over several times.

      Finally Hercules and Meg appeared in the distance, slowly heading towards him. Both were grinning like fools and Iolaus felt some of his joy dissipate. He and Herk used to have fun like that. Always a team, running around in laughter, joking, seeking the next adventure. Before her.

      Iolaus took a deep breath as they approached.

      "Hey look what I got!" he said brightly, forcing a smile. "I had to replace-"

      "We're getting married!" Hercules burst out.

      Iolaus froze, his fake smile vanishing.

---

      Megaera hummed happily to herself as she packed her trunk. Within a few hours she and Hercules would be married, she'd be away from her father and everything would work out.

      Turning to reach for another dress, she spotted the figure behind her.

      "Why are you here? Jealous?" she smirked. "That he loves me? He's rescuing me. You didn't see that coming did you? That we'd fall in love. We're going to be toghet-" she stopped, staring in horror at the dagger protruding from her stomach. Gasping she fell to the ground, clutching her lace.

----

      "Hey Meg?" Iolaus knocked on the door. He had to set thigns right before the wedding. He had to make peace with his best friends wife to be.

      "Meg?" he called again, pushing the door open. Clothes were laid out on the bed, a trunk was half full. Candles burned silently, casting shadows on the walls. A soft groan caught his hunter's ear. He spotted Meg on the ground.

      "MEGAERA!" Cordonius bellowed. Iolaus looked up, his heart sinking as he recognized the knife embedded in her.

      "Iol. . .aus. . ." she gapsed. "You. . ."

      Cordonius dashed to his daughter's side. Iolaus felt his heart stop at the same moment hers did, the realization sinking in. The dagger belonged to him.

      A scowl appearing on his face, the god of war, Ares, materialized next to his mother. The war god nodded, looking down at the last image in the reflecting waters: Iolaus being taken into incarceration by two Corinthian guards.

      "Great plan mother. Does Hercules know yet?" Ares looked up to face his mother.

      "Not yet," Hera noted in her always deep voice, "but soon. And the other gods won't interfere with the mortal's trial."

      "Then Iolaus is as good as dead."

      "And with Hercules so filled with hate over what his former friend has done, he won't bother stopping it."

      "But what about the centaur? He could give a good defense."

      "Then be sure he's not there to interfere," Hera spitefully demanded. "I'm sure you could arrange something."

      "I've got just the plan," Ares schemed. "It'll even give you a chance to get back at Artemis for what she did to you."

      "All the better then!"

---

      The following morning at Cheiron's Academy, Hercules, Lilith, and Theseus walked out the front doors. Hercules seemed so cheerful, for the first time in awhile. He was going to get married today.

      "Some fun last night ace!" Theseus said, clapping his demi-god friend across the back.

      "I've never gotten drunk before," Hercules noted with a belch. "Remind me not too again, okay?" Theseus and Lilith chuckled. Hercules did too, wiping his lips dry.

      "I heard Feducious got pretty wild," Lilith snickered.

      Hercules laughed. "He was totally different person, you know. And Jason, the good mannered King! Mister Party was more like it!"

      "Too bad Meg wouldn't let us gals throw her a bachelorette party," Lilith sadly said, wishing she could have had some fun too.

      "She was having family time, which is thankfully over, for good." Hercules replied.

      "Actually it turns out I have some big news myself," Lilith said airily.

      Hercules grabbed his friend by the shoulder with a gentle squeeze. "You're not going to back out being the maid of honor I hope?"

      Lilith shook her head, affirming her answer. "I wouldn't miss that for the world, Hercules! But while you and Iolaus were away in Siberia over the summer, Queen Cyan asked me if I was interested in returning to the amazons. Cheiron and me agreed that would be a positive thing right now. "

      "It would be. I'm happy for you," Hercules said.

      "Same here, Lilith," Theseus added. "But Hercules, we need to talk seriously. I'm honored and all you selected me as your best men, I really am. But I can't accept the job."

      "Why?" Hercules didn't like where this conversation was headed. You could tell that even if he hadn't say anything; it was in his eyes.

      "When I first met you and Iolaus I saw something special. You two are meant to walk down the road together. He should be the best man."

      Hercules laughed "I'd give that a bit of consideration if I could find him! But I can't. He's run off. Didn't even come to the party last night. And Iolaus never misses a party, even when he's being a stick in the mud. Oh well!"

      Hercules switched the subject. "Oh by the way, when are the guests going to arrive?"

      Before the guests could be discussed, two figures on horseback approached. One was the tough looking Warden, the second the elderly magistrate of the villages surrounding Corinth.

      Hercules, Lilith, and Theseus traded nervous glances. Why would the Warden be coming to the academy?

      "My condolences, Hercules," The Warden said as his horse slowed to a halt several feet away from the nervous and bewildered demi-god. "I know this is tough for you."

      Hercules looked at his friends, who were as puzzled as he was. The magistrate frowned.

      "You're fiancee, Megaera."

      "What about her?" Lilith demanded.

      "I'm sorry to have to tell you this. She was killed last night, by the dagger of Iolaus. He was found at the scene, over her body."

      "Iolaus . . . " Hercules quietly gasped. Theseus grabbed his friend as Hercules turned pale. "No. There has to be a mistake!"

Act One

The Truth Be Told

Also Starring
Nathaniel Lees as Cheiron
Jodie Rimmer as Lilith
Mfundo Morrison as Theseus
Sharon Tyrell as Alcmene

Guest Starring
Meg Foster as Hera
David Hemblen as Waylan
and
Kevin Smith as Ares

Based on "Young Hercules"
Created by Renaissance Pictures

Creative Consultants
Tracy Viader and Barb Soden

Co-Executive Producer
Medea

Edited by Tern O'Brien
Teleplay by Kent Simmons & Tern O'Brien

Story by Tern O'Brien


      Hercules walked down the path to Corinth, a path he had walked so many times in the past, but this time it was different. The rage in his heart showed in his eyes, a rage he had never had walking down this path before.

      "I'm going to kill that bastard!" Hercules muttered to himself, his face still an angry shade of red, even redder than before when he heard the news.

      Theseus and Lilith lagged aways behind, trying to catch up with Hercules and talk him out of taking justice into his own hands, even trying to think Iolaus would kill someone. "Hercules!" Lilith called out a few times in desperation to get Hercules' to stop. He totally ignored the call. But when it continued, he became annoyed and angry.

      "What?" Hercules shouted after he turned around.

      "You just can't go into jail and do what you want to do!" Theseus shouted back calmly.

      Hercules crossed his arms, snarling. "You're trying to stop me!?"

      Theseus walked up to Hercules and clapped his shoulder. "Just chill out, ace. There's going to be a trial and everything to prove what happened. Plus you know Iolaus wouldn't kill anybody, especially someone special to you. You're just overreacting. Iolaus couldn't hurt a fly!"

      Hercules grabbed Theseus up and slammed him against a tree trunk. "You know nothing about Iolaus," The demi-god shouted as he continued to grasp Theseus tightly by the throat, "about his jealously or about how he feels about her! Now get out of my sight, both of you! Before I change my mind and go and kill him!"

      "Stop it, Hercules. You're choking him!" Lilith screamed in desperation.

      Hercules let go off the cadet, and stormed off into the woods. Theseus gasped, bringing himself back up to his feet with Lilith's help.

      "Where you going?" Lilith shouted after the demi-god.

      "None of your business, Amazon! I'll come back once the trial begins. Till than stay away from me, or else!" Hercules shouted as he continued forward, not looking back.

---

      Theseus and Lilith arrived half an hour later at Jason's Palace in the center of Corinth. The two went to the throne room right away, where the young King was pacing around in ponder.

      "Iolaus hasn't killed anybody!" Theseus affirmed his belief.

      Jason stopped pacing and looked at Theseus dead in the eye. "Maybe not, but the odds aren't good. It was his dagger found at the death site. There will be a trial, starting tomorrow morning." Jason started to head out of his throne room, but Lilith ran in front of him to block his path with intent.

      "You can't do anything?" Lilith asked, almost astonished.

      Jason sighed. "Its out of my hands. Its in the hands of the law now."

      "Even though Iolaus and Hercules are your friends?"

      "What good would the law be if I didn't allow it to be put forth!"

      "You're the King!"

      "I'm not allowed to interfere!" Jason shouted, his facade crumbling. The young King was near tears. "I know in my heart Iolaus is innocent but I'm not allowed to participate at all!"

      Theseus shook his head at Jason's answer. "It's a little different now, " he reminded the King.

      Jason nodded his head ever so slightly in agreement. "I agree, but the greater good wouldn't. I'm sorry. Trial begins tomorrow morning, in the Corinthian courthouse. Wanted to postpone it, but the trial of Virgules the Terrible begins next week and the officials want this case done before it so they don't coincide. Better have some good friends to testify. Suggestion, have Cheiron go first and Hercules right after. Good enough defenses there to withhold all the bantering from everyone else."

      "That could be a problem," Lilith regretfully had to say. "See, Cheiron left abruptly without notice last night and told everybody not to expect him back for at least a few weeks. He postponed the new semester!"

      "And I gather Hercules' isn't taking it like you guys," Jason surmised.

      "He's not," Theseus sighed.

      "Can't say I'm surprised." Jason looked around, for Hercules. Though he hadn't come in with the two, maybe he was lurking somewhere. "Where is he by the way?"

      "Ran off to the woods till the trial began." Lilith

      Some concern creased Theseus' brow. "I'm scared for him. He's dangerous, very dangerous."

      "Might want to go and find him," Jason told the two. "Usually trials begin a week after the crime committed. He might not come back on time." Jason sighed. "And the damage he could do in a week's time," Jason shuttered to think. The young King started off again.

      "Just one more question before we head off," Theseus stopped him.

      Jason stopped, and looked back at the two. "Yeah."

      "What will happen if Iolaus is found guilty of murdering Meg?" Theseus asked.

      After a long and deep sigh, looking to both his sides, Jason answered with, "He'll be executed."

      Horror crossed his friends faces.

---

      Outside the other side of the woods, two bullies were harassing a young woman by berating her with harsh words and physically by spitting on her. As the woman started to whimper, resisting at first, one of the bullies grabbed her roughly by the arm, then tossed her on the ground, her back clunking on the ground hard. Both bullies laughed out loud at their fallen victim.

      "Get off her!" Hercules' screamed as he came from out of nowhere and clunked the two bullies heads together. One fell on his back, hitting the ground with a hard blow. The second Hercules pressed above his head with his super human demi-god strength. As the bully whimpered and started to beg for mercy, Hercules dropped him on the ground and the bully passed out after letting out a painful scream.

      Snickering, Hercules pressed a knife to the other bully's throat. "Don't kill me! I'm sorry!" The bully pleaded, his face turning white.

      "You tried to kill her!" Hercules reminded the bully, pressing the knife harder against his throat.

      "I won't again, I'm sorry. My master's in prison for genocide, I'll reform, I promise."

      "You were with Virgules, weren't you?" Hercules eyes flashed a hateful look at the mention of that warlord's name.

      "Yes, but I was a new recruit and never killed. I swear on Zeus' name," the now timid bully answered in plea.

      Hercules snickered, suddenly taking the knife away. But he then pushed it into the Bully's side. The bully let out a painful scream as the knife was taken out and Hercules kicked him in the stomach and he fell on his side. Though he was wounded and hurt, not dead luckily, the bully struggled to his feet and tried to get away.

      "If you make it to town you'll survive, if not you'll die a painful and slow death!" Hercules shouted after the bully.

      "Help!" the bully cried out, begging for any he could get. Though it was far off in the distance, if at all out in these parts.

      Walking after the bully, Hercules laughed and kicked the bully hard in the back once he caught up with him. "Stop it!" the victimized woman shouted as she ran over to the two. Even though these same bullies tried to hurt her, she couldn't bear the pain of them getting the same treatment, especially when wounded.

      "Who are you?" she demanded. "You save me only to kill them?"

      Hercules turned around and shocked her when he pressed the knife to her throat. "If you dare stop me!" the demi-god warned her in a mean whisper.

      "Ace! No!" Theseus shouted from close by. Lilith and him had tracked Hercules.

      Hercules sighed, knowing he couldn't hurt this woman. On this very road he and Iolaus had first encountered Meg. Desperately but carefully, Lilith and Theseus restrained Hercules, the knife dropping out of the demi god's hand.

      The woman knelt to help her bully to his feet and they hurried towards the nearest village.

      Hercules pushed Theseus and Lilith off him, with a push so furious it sent both of them to the ground. "What did you two want!? I warned you to leave me alone," Hercules shouted at his two friends.

      Theseus sighed. "Trial begins tomorrow morning. We just wanted to tell you."

      Hercules casually sat down on a rock close by. "Fine then. I'll sit here till morning and head to town then. "

      "Iolaus didn't do it Herk. Think about it."

      "The evidence says otherwise." Herk said numbly, his eyes dark with hatred. "I stopped by the Magistrate's office. He was with the body, it was his knife. He hated her. It makes sense. A month ago I wouldn't have thought it was possible but the way's he's been with her. . ."

      "Herk are you listening to yourself?" Lilith demanded. "You've known Iolaus your entire life! A thief once, a hothead yes, a murderer no!"

      Hercules stared into the distance.

      Knowing they couldn't change his mind, Lilith and Theseus sighed and left.

---

      Hearing the sound of his prison cell being unlocked and soft footsteps coming closer to him, Iolaus said, "Mom?" The blonde cadet turned around, for the first time since he was incarcerated the night before, and saw Alcmene.

      "Its me, Alcmene," Hercules' mother announced. Iolaus fell into Alcmene's loving embrace. Both got misty eyed and sniffled.

      "I thought it was my mother, but it was someone better."

      "I'm so sorry, Iolaus. How could they do this to you?" Alcmene asked as the two separated, but stayed close, Iolaus clutching her hand.

      "They think I committed murder."

      "Oh I know you didn't. You could never do that."

      "What about my mother and father? Did you get word to them?" Iolaus asked, changing the subject.

      Alcmene regretfully sighed. "They aren't coming."

      "Can't say I'm surprised," Iolaus said as he turned around to face the barren wall of his cramped cell. "They always did believe the worst about me."

      Alcmene shook her head, sniffling. "Your father was never more disgraced when he heard the news and he ran away, promising to never return to your mother and you again. Your mother refuses to see you unless they decree you not guilty."

      "Damn them, damn them both!" Iolaus muttered to himself, holding back his tears.

      "I'm so sorry. But I know Hercules will stand up for you, prove you innocent. He knows you could never kill an innocent woman."

      Iolaus nodded, turning back around to face Alcmene. "I just wish I could be there, to comfort him. It's not easy. I'm his best friend and I can't be with him during the worst time of his life." Iolaus sat back on the prison bench lining the wall of his cell. The blonde cadet sighed miserably, burying his head in his hands.

      Alcmene sat down next to him and rested her reassuring and comforting arm around his shoulder. "You are in his heart, Iolaus, he told me so many times."

      Iolaus nodded, looking up at Alcmene's caring eyes. "I know," he sighed miserably. Alcmene took Iolaus into another embrace.

      "From me and Hercules."

Act Two

      The following morning the Corinthian Courthouse was packed. Not a row was empty. Sitting on the left side, the side for Iolaus' defense, were Alcmene, Feducious, many cadets from the Academy, and several people who knew Iolaus well. Sitting over on the right side, the side represent the prosecution, Megaera's father, Cordonius, and her mother, Versae. Behind them several loyal followers of Hera and some heartbroken relatives.

      In his bench at the front of the courtroom, Judge Nagel awaited the case to begin, impatiently thumping his fingers on the bench. Next to the judge's bench, the witness bench. Nearby the bench, King Jason sat in a special reserved place for the King. He would rather be sitting behind the defense for his friend, Iolaus, but of course the law thought differently. A guard stood on both left and right sides of the young King. Jason tried to smile encouragingly at Iolaus but the cadet walked with his head down, spirit downcast.

      A straight back chair before the judge's bench would soon be filled by the accused, Iolaus.

      Out in the halls, many nosy people bickered amongst themselves in hushed manner, some trying to get into the trial while others, some scribes, impatiently waited to get word for their records.

      Though Hercules was nowhere in sight, Lilith and Theseus were quietly talking amongst themselves near the courtroom entrance.

      "Who's this lawyer you got for Iolaus?" Theseus asked Lilith.

      "His names Waylan. He's my sister's godfather, mine too. Never been outspoken or beaten!"

      "Let's hope the streak continues."

      A smile curved Lilith's lips. "Waylan!" she called, spotting the middle aged lawyer coming from another room inside the courthouse.

      Waylan smiled back. "Ah, Lilith." Waylan came over and embraced the young Amazon. "You've grown," he admired her.

      "Thank you so much for coming on such short notice, Waylan."

      "My pleasure. My Nana told me about the trial I rushed as fast as I could to Corinth. Barely made it in time."

      "Did you get a chance to speak to Iolaus yet?" Lilith asked.

      "Yes I did. Look's hard, but if his friend, Hercules, testifies he might just stand a chance."

      "I hate to say it," Theseus said, "but Hercules is quite mad at Iolaus. Might not do much good. I'm afraid Herk think Iolaus did it."

      "If there is one thing we do know about Hercules," Lilith said reasonably, "it's that he could never let Iolaus die, and death is the price for being found guilty."

      Theseus furrowed his brow. "Speaking of Hercules, have you seen him yet?"

      "Not since he came back this morning," Lilith answered. "Since a few minutes ago even Alcmene hadn't talked to him and she's his mother."

      "You two better go and find Hercules," Waylan told the two. "I'll go in the courtroom for opening arguments."

      "Well if it isn't Mister bigshot lawyer! Working for kiddies these days I see?" the voice of a young, arrogant, man called over to Waylan.

      Waylan flashed a fake smile across his lips, which suddenly changed to a unhappy smirk as the young, arrogant, brown haired and lanky man came over. "Lilith, Theseus, meet Tensius. He's the prosecutions defender, and an added incentive of me doing this," Wayan explained to the two.

      "Doing something for your godchild isn't enough?" Tensius wondered.

      "Its not enough because I'd do anything for her, but the added incentive is wiping that arrogant smirk off your face." Not wanting to incur further problems, Waylan started to walk away, ready to enter the courtroom.

      Tensius said after Waylan, "Good luck, Waylan. We're both undefeated, so one of us won't be. And this smirk doesn't want to be wiped off.

      "Arrogant bastard," Waylan muttered to himself.

      Moments later after opening arguments, Theseus was called to the bench as the first witness for the defense.

      No one could see Ares standing in the courtroom, smirking. This would be fun.

      "I call Theseus to the bench," Waylan said. "Theseus, you are a good friend of Iolaus and Hercules both. Concerning Iolaus, I was told you helped protect several young children and their mother, Kaira about a year ago. There was a lot of flack about Kaira's husband's trial. If I remember, Iolaus became a big brother for the children, along with you, Lilith, and Hercules."

      "Correct. Awhile later, Kaira moved with the children, so we lost contact. But for the time we were close, especially Iolaus. He loved those kids like they were his brothers and sisters."

      "But now this same young man, this caring person, is accused of killing an innocent woman, a woman only a few years older than the oldest of those children. Out of jealously, a typical young adult trait which amounts to nothing more than harmless temper tantrums."

      "Iolaus was jealous, very jealous. I recall separating the two during practice drills quite often, especially right after Hercules would meet with Megaera. Things got worse when Iolaus and Hercules came back from Anatolia a few weeks ago; almost as something there worsened the situation with Megaera." Theseus said reluctantly. Hercules sat glaring hatefully at Iolaus.

      "But none the less typical teenage jealously. Your honor, everyone else; sometimes jealously brings out the green-eyed monster in all of us, but to accuse one of murder because of jealously alone isn't enough. Evidence is strong but people can be set up, and from time of making to time of purchase and handling, anything has many fingerprints on it. Thank you, Theseus."

      After Waylan sat down, Tensius smoothly got up and slipped on over to the witness bench to take his turn at the witness.

      "Have you ever heard of a con man before, Theseus?"

      "Yes I have."

      "What is it that con men do?"

      "Do things to con people."

      "Things such as Iolaus helping a poor family just to justify his good name when he commits cold blooded murder later on!"

      Theseus nearly-shouted back, "That's irrational! Hercules hadn't even met Megaera before that."

      "According to the date of the trial, and time Iolaus spent most time with those kids and their mother, Megaera had been living back in Corinth with her parents, Cordonius and Versae and had met both Iolaus and Hercules. Need I say more?"

      Waylan stood up firmly. "I object, your honor! This arrogant gentleman, and that word I use loosely, is incorrect! The date of that trial did happen after Hercules and Iolaus met Meg but the time they spent with the children was before! I have it documented right here from the Palace Scribe!"

      The Judge wavered his hand to the courtroom. "Objection sustained. I am aware of the dates. Continue Counselor."

      Iolaus swallowed hard. Alcmene patted his shoulder from behind him.

      Moments later as he was called to the bench, Hercules walked past Iolaus, secured to the prisoner's chair with chains binding his arms and legs, not even giving his friend a look. But once he passed, he muttered to himself,"How could you!"

      Once Hercules sat down in the witness bench, Waylan got up off his chair and walked up to question Hercules.

      "Hercules, best friend of the accused and would-have been husband of the murdered. I ask, do you think, even with evidence, your best friend could kill an innocent woman?"

      "You've got that totally wrong," Hercules answered, surprising many people, especially Iolaus. "Iolaus isn't my best friend anymore, not even a friend. He was jealous of Megaera from the start. Never gave her a chance. The look on his face when we announced our engagement, he would have killed me if there hadn't been people around."

      Gasps ran through the courtroom. A tear almost dropped from Iolaus' eyes. Jason sat up straight. What was going on here? How could Hercules say such a thing? The cadets were floored. Even Feducious seem stunned.

      "Dangerous accusation you're making there," Waylan commented. "Hercules. Is your anger directed at your friend, or simply your grief? "

      Hercules sighed. "I grieve that someone like that is allowed to run loose!"

      Iolaus shouted, "Hercules! If you . . . "

      Judge Nagel fiercely pounded his gavel on the bench. "Order! Order!" he demanded. Iolaus hushed, so did some in the crowd that began bickering. "Sit down, Iolaus. You'll get a chance to defend yourself later." The Judge turned to Waylan. "Any further questions?"

      "That'll be all, your honor." Waylan sat down, almost nervously, though he did his best to hide that. Hercules' lack of defense wasn't helping the defense any.

      Tensius smoothly walked over to Herk, slipping his hands down on the judge's bench. "To use those famous words: No further questions your honor!" Tensius smoothly walked back over to his bench and sat down. Hercules had just won the case for him.

      Some personal bickering began in the crowd, some astonished at the lawyer's arrogance. Iolaus shot an upset look at Hercules, who shot an angry one back at his no longer friend.

      "Order Order!" The Judge demanded, pounding his gavel down fiercely on the bench. "Enough bickering in five minutes to last the whole trial." After a brief pause to collect his breath, the Judge told everyone, "I've decided to call recess for lunch. Meet back in one hour's time."

      The Judge pounded his gavel down on the bench again, to official dismiss everybody for recess.

---

      Cordonius, Meg's father, took the stand after the recess. Sobbing and shaking the large man professed his love for his oldest daughter.

      "She was everything! She messed up a couple times but then she fell in love with that kid! And that hooligan, Iolaus, he was in league with the Prince of Thieves! He helped him steal valuable paintings from my gallery last spring! That brat was always looking funny at my Meg. HE was plotting this for months!"

      "That's not true! You hated your daughter! You told her she was a harlot and you tried to send her away!" Iolaus shouted, on his feet, enraged. Waylan and Alcmene hushed him quickly. The judge pounded his gavel.

      "One more outburst from you young man and you'll spend the rest of this trial in a cell!" he snapped. Iolaus sunk his head into his hands.

      "He did it! When she died, his name was on her lips! I was there! She named her killer!" Cordonius shouted. The courtroom was in an uproar. Hercules' blood ran cold at his almost father in law's words. Was it true? Had Meg named his best friend? Has she died in fear in his arms?

      The courtroom was in pandemonium.

---

      As evening came and the orange glow of the setting sun was cast over Corinth, Iolaus sat in his jail cell alone, in a near state of depression. He wiped the building perspiration from his brow every few moments, as he remembered Theseus' testimony and his heart felt the pain he brought his soul. Theseus was on his side, he knew that. . .but still. . .that slip about his jealousy surely wouldn't help him. As for Hercules. . .Iolaus wanted to cry just thinking about it. Iolaus jumped when he heard the door to the prison hall he was in open.

      Some concern made itself present in the mortal's eyes when standing beside the door was his friend, Hercules. The demi-god was angry, face red and fists clenched. He was on a path of vengeance, one which landed him several feet away from the person he thought killed the young woman he loved.

      "I can't believe you!" Iolaus shouted, running up to the bars and angrily shaking them. "You know I didn't do it!"

      "That's all you could say? My future wife was just murdered. Then again being a killer justifies that, doesn't it?"

      Neither boy saw the three women in skimpy, tattered clothes and wild hair standing behind Hercules.

      Tears welled around the mortal's eyes. "I'm so sorry Hercules. But you gotta believe me; I was setup by the gods, somebody out to get both of us. Hera, or maybe Ares, or maybe both or someone else. Maybe that Altina we messed with. Or maybe someone we never saw. But it wasn't me!" Emotional drained, Iolaus slumped into the corner of his cell, shivering as a cold wind passed in from the front door.

      "Excuses, all damn excused. I'm sick of excuses!" Hercules shouted. "How could your knife have gotten there Iolaus? Going to make up a fairy tale about the Prince of Thieves or someone stealing it?"

      "By the way, Hercules; how did you get in here? Cordonius put a restraining orders on any visitors, other than lawyer. He claims I'm a menace to society." Iolaus chuckled. "Speaks about himself I'd say." The golden haired young man pushed himself to his feet and slowly approached the bars again.

      "Let's say the guards will have headaches when they wake up. I brought this knife," Hercules swiftly pulled a knife out of his tunic, "for you."

      "You could never do that," Iolaus said breathlessly, "even if I did kill somebody. You couldn't kill in cold blood Hercules! No more than I could!"

      "Well you already disproved that theory didn't you?"

      Hercules gripped his knife the tightest he could, and pointed it at Iolaus. "The only reason your alive is because you're behind bars." Casually, Hercules put the knife away and walked up to bars, coming face to face with his former best friend. "Pray they find you guilty and execute you, because it'll be ten times less painful then what the way I'll do it if they set you free."

      The demi-god strode away from the bars, headed towards the door leading out to the next hall. He abruptly stopped when Iolaus shouted his name in desperation for him to stop and listen.

      "The night before, I went to see Megaera because I wanted to apologize for my actions, my jealousy if you may. If she made you happy, that made me happy. I wanted to tell her I'd be proud to stand beside you."

      Not even looking back at Iolaus, Hercules replied with, "Tell your lies to someone who cares."

---

      On Mount Olympus, Ares rested back in his throne, watching unhappily as Hercules headed off to a hill and sat on a rock, apparently pondering under the turning night sky.

      A shriek of madness echoed throughout the chamber of the war god, a cloud of smoke appearing and from it coming a statquese female figure in a tattered red dress with frizzy blonde hair. "Why so glum, Ares?"

      Ares almost flashed a smile. "Alecto, my favorite of the furies. I've missed you."

      "We've missed you," Added fury Cullar as she appeared, Cullar the shorter and lankier darker-skinned fury

      "A lot!" Added the third and last, the average built and stockier of the Furies, Tisiphone.

      Ares smirked at the three mad deities. "Nice to see everyone here, but why?

      "We share your concern that the pondering Hercules might actually realize the truth," Alecto explained, "that it was Hera who killed Megaera."

      Cullar added, "We can change that, drive the son of Zeus mad beyond rage! Maybe even to his death."

      "All you have to do is command," Told Tisiphone. "We owe you favor for all yours."

      Ares laughed to himself. "And favors even worth not getting favored back! But I kind of like the idea of pondering, Hercules pondering. Pondering can be a good thing. Hera might not like her stepson, but I kind of like this new Hercules. So filled with hate and anger, it makes me blood boil. No offense, gals."

      The Furies sneered at the god of war.

      Alecto then said, "If you say so, Ares. But if you change your mind, just call our names." With that said, the three materialized away, a mad-like laughter filling the chamber for a moment after they went away.

Act Three

      Looking up at the darkening sky, Hercules' mind began to wander into dark, violent, thoughts. In the first, Iolaus pleaded for mercy but Hercules would have none. He mangled his former best friend till he was bloodied. In another, Iolaus fled for his life from a vengeful Hercules, and Hercules chased after him with a butcher knife, knifing him through the back to stop him. The last, but not the least, was the most violent. Hercules only stood and wickedly laughed as Iolaus was strapped to a torture chair in Corinth's prison and beat and mangled by the prison guards. The blonde haired young prisoner was helpless, and Hercules enjoyed it. Just as helpless as Megaera the night she died at the his hands.

      Hercules had such violent thoughts before, though not about Iolaus and certainly he never enjoyed those violent thoughts. But now was different; they brought him all the pleasure in the world.

      "How sweet it is!" Hercules told himself, a wicked smile flashing across his lips.

      "I love those words," A familiar voice agreed. Appearing on the rock next to Hercules, the demi god's half-brother, Ares.

      "What do you want, Ares?" Hercules asked, rolling his eyes at the god of war.

      "Came to talk," Ares quite frankly replied, "like any brother would at a time like this. Though Megaera wasn't my first choice of a good woman, you loved her and she loved you. Nuff said. My condolences."

      "New Ares; actually sounds like you care."

      "This is the night of new births, including a new Hercules. A Hercules I actually like for a change."

      "All the caring is just an act for you to say that. I should have known."

      "I knew you would say that, you always will. But just think about this for a moment. Iolaus murders your future wife, and then your mother comforts him!" Ares showed Hercules the images of Alcmene comforting Iolaus in jail, which both disturbed and angered the demi-god.

      "How could she? To that killer!" Hercules gasped.

      "My point exactly. And everyone else comforting and being nice to him. Perhaps the real actor here is all of them. "

      Hercules nodded. "You've got a valid point there."

      "Maybe, just maybe, your new attitude is a reflection of who you really are and should be. I mean, using excessive force against robbers who hurt an innocent woman, reprimanding someone for defending those same robbers, and wanting to stop a killer from being set free to kill more. I think you've finally awaken to realize that in this world, killing does solve everything!" Ares seemed sincere.

      "Look, I appreciate the offer, I really do this time. Maybe you do care. But underneath that still . . . I know what you're trying to do; you are using this to lure me to the dark side. It won't work. I don't want to senselessly kill people, even killers. Maybe my grief was too much to handle before and I strayed away."

      Ares nodded nervously, not liking where this was perhaps headed. "I understand. Just keep everything in mind," he said smoothly, masking his nervousness.

      "Just a small question, does Zeus know anything about this and wouldn't Hera be upset with you for trying to procure a deal with me?"

      "Zeus doesn't even know your name, quite honestly. And Hera doesn't even know I'm here or else she'd reprimand me to Tartarus and back, even farther to a place I fear. Right now, except for me, nobody else upstairs cares about you, just me." that said, Ares materialized away.

      A few moments after Ares left, Hercules looked around, his anger sort of fading away as he said to himself in recollection, Iolaus and me used to play here, talk about the adventures and fun times we had. Jason came a lot, so did Theseus and Lilith. But never had as much fun than when it was just Iolaus and me, together. Before Megaera. Those were the good times." Hercules wiped at the moistness in his eyes.

      Some of those times came back to Hercules, made him laugh and smile. The closeness Iolaus and him had, the brotherly love. Nothing at all about that guy could have been a killer.

      Underneath all this grief I never gave Iolaus a chance, Hercules thought, perhaps he didn't kill Meg . . . in fact I know he could never kill her, jealously or not. Iolaus, my best friend, couldn't kill someone, especially an innocent woman who I cared about. Not just because he couldn't, but because he cared about me, just as I should care about him. What on earth came over me?

      Hercules stood up sincere to his assured beliefs and headed off.

      "Jason and me are going to do a little search of Cordonius' property by ourselves," The demi-god promised.

      Watching his half brother head back to Corinth, Ares let out an irritated scream as thunder boomed and lighting flashed in the night sky. Both his personal agenda and Hera's agenda were crumbling. This wasn't good at all. Maybe he needed to call that favor in to the Furies.

---

      As the sun rose over Corinth, Hercules and Jason rose on horseback down the path to Megaera's house on the outskirts of town. They conversed while they rode.

      "I'm glad to see things are getting better, Herk. You had us worried for awhile."

      "Just hope we can get Iolaus freed. I feel so foolish for what I said. And to think I actually believed it."

      "You were grieving. It happens. The thing is, now we correct a wrong."

      After dismounting at Megaera's house, the two searched her rooms for signs of struggle. Even Cordonius could not refuse the King. As it turns out there were none; the room was in as perfect and clean shape as it was a few days before when Hercules has been there.

      Herk knelt by the bed. Even the blood from Meg's body had been removed. The room was spotless.

      "What are we looking for?" Jason asked.

      "This." Hercules picked up the blue peacock feather.

      "The Magistrate overlooked it, I'm sure, after all Meg's family were widely known for devoutness to Hera." Jason pointed out.

      Hercules nodded. "But the room is so well kept, no sign of struggle. Someone just walked in. The door is intact, and Meg stopped following Hera well over a year ago. Why would she have a sign of Hera in her room?"

      "Because if Hera did this Herk, it would explain everything. How she got Iolaus' knife, the timing of him finding her, and she left this to mock you." Jason concluded. Hercules' eyes flashed.

      "Only thing that will get Iolaus off now is a compelling testimony, one of the only things that can touch Judge Nagel's heart, even with new evidence. And I bet they won't count this. We need a good testimony."

      "Someone of status in Corinth," Hercules wisely added.

      "Sorry buddy but the King can't speak for either side. The law!"

      "What about Cheiron? I'm surprised he wasn't around, unless centaurs aren't allowed."

      "He suddenly vanished, just before all this began to some parts unknown. He probably doesn't even know Megaera was killed. And if he did he would have never gone anywhere, regardless."

      "I smell a rat . . . more like a god, a ratty god. Ares!"

      "You think history is repeating itself once again?"

      "Yeah, I think it is. I bet Hera and Ares have tamed up on this Jase. With me out of the way, they both get what they want!"

      "To think of it I was told of some centaur/amazon problems that started up just the other day, as all this started. My guess Ares and his cronies are taking our key witness away from us, well from you guys. I'm the take-no-sides King."

      "But one that can bring back the key witness without anybody but you, me, and him knowing!"

      A smile flashed across Jason's face. "I can. I'll bring along the Magistrate too, as a witness of status."

      "He won't go, he's too law abiding."

      "He owes me a favor, big favor. He will go and won't divulge my going along."

      The two shared a firm handclasp, and headed back to town. "See you by tomorrow noon," Jason said midway as he headed for the Magistrate's place. "There should be enough testimonies to keep the thing prolonged." Hercules affirmed with a nod and rode off to the courthouse.

---

      That morning Hercules testified again. But this time things were very different.

      "I understand you wanted the chance to speak again, Hercules. I gather now that your grieving has passed, you have different thoughts," Waylan said as he paced back and forth in front of the witness stand.

      "Much different. As you said before, grief changes a person, their thoughts and feelings. I realized Iolaus could never kill someone, never. I was wrong yesterday. Iolaus has always been my best friend, and I was wrong to jump to the conclusion everyone else did. I firmly believe he is innocent."

      "Thank you, Hercules. Your testimony has been most uplifting." Waylan then sat down.

      For the first time in a long time, Hercules and Iolaus smiled at each other. Though their hands couldn't touch, both wanted to reach them out and bond them together.

Act Four

      Tensius walked over, ever so smoothly, to challenge the demi-god. "The guards reported you broke into the accused's cell last evening. With a knife no less. Justice in your own hands, reason you want him free?" he looked straight into Hercules' eyes, trying to psyche him out.

      "I broke the law and entered, yes. But now I regret that. Nothing you say will make me change my opinion on Iolaus, my best friend." Hercules shot a look of determination at Tensius, scaring the arrogant lawyer a little as he backed off ever so slightly.

      Tensius nodded, walking back to his bench. "Understandable. I guess if you don't have anything else to say, you may be seated . . . and me."

      Waylan snickered, looking over at his rival. "Loss for words, finally, huh? He muttered.

      Tensius sighed, laughing under his breath. "Its not over yet," he only said, some of his fire coming back.

      Feeling the trial had well over worn out its welcome, the Judge told everyone, "Look, more than enough substantial evidence was gathered at the start to make this case close quickly. Out of the goodness of my heart and the fairness of law, I allowed all this bickering to partake. Enough is enough! I've decided to allow one more witness for the defense following a two hour lunch recess. Then my verdict by closure of the day." The Judge pounded his gavel down on his bench sharply, making Hercules, Iolaus, and the defense quite nervous.

      "I hope to the gods that Jason and the Magistrate bring Cheiron back in time," Hercules whispered to his mother, Alcmene.

---

      Riding furiously toward the centaur camp to the North of Corinth, Jason and the elderly Magistrate of the suburbs of Corinth. The two slowed to a halt once outside the camp.

      "I just hope we aren't too late," Jason said, dismounting his horse.

      "If I didn't owe you a favor I wouldn't bother dragging myself out here for this pointless mess," The Magistrate drawled, already dismounted form his horse.

      In the centaur camp, there wasn't one centaur who wasn't trying out his weapon on a practice dummy or discussing the war against the amazons with a fellow centaur. The leaders of the centaurs, Kaleipus and Tyldus, were talking with Cheiron.

      Kalepius was a tall bodied centaur with wild bushy brown hair held back a leather thong. Tyldus was blonder and leaner.

      "This is so odd the amazons would break the peace treaty," Cheiron acknowledged.

      "I'm afraid not," Kalepius regretfully stated. "Sarnia and her tribe have been hunting on our grounds for weeks now. They killed Gakar's son last week, by mistake. Now I know it was no mistake.

      "Melosa and her tribe have been quiet," Tyldus noted his latest amazon experience. "That always happens before they're about to make trouble. I say we use this chance to finish them all off. I want my son, Phantes, to grow up without having to deal with these . . .women."

      Cheiron shot his centaur leader a dirty look. "We should be way past that now. War has brought our kind nothing but death."

      Tyldus was taken back by Cheiron's wise words. "How dare you! You've become a teacher, a pacifist teaching boys how to defend themselves and avoid war. Centaur's are a warrior race, fights who fight! You should be ashamed!"

      Kalpeius stepped in between the two as the argument heated and both prepared to draw their swords on each other. "Stop fighting you two!" the Centaur shouted, grabbing the two swords and throwing them aside. "We must conserve our fighting spirits for those Amazons, not each other."

      "Cheiron!" Jason called over, entering the centaur camp along with the Magistrate. Seeing the young King of Corinth and Magistrate, the two Centaur leaders and Cheiron trotted over. Most of the other centaurs stopped what they were doing and looked over at their leaders.

      "Jason!" Cheiron shouted. "What business do you have here? This isn't Corinthian land, this is neutral land owned by the Centaur colonies. Corinth has no business in this! I ask you leave, or else." Cheiron said stern to his words, though regretfully in his heart.

      "This war is a fix up!" Jason exclaimed. "Just ask yourselves why it started all of the sudden and you'll see Ares face all over it!"

      Cheiron nodded. "I suspected that, perhaps. But Kalepius and Tyldus have both had some difficulty keeping peace with the Amazons in the last week."

      Tyldus. "Its true, King Jason." Kalepius affirmed with a nod.

      "Meg is dead." Jason explained to Cheiron. "Iolaus was found with the murder weapon, but its obvious Hera set him up. And its obvious they she wouldn't want someone to give a good testimony in Iolaus defense, someone like you. Its obvious someone like Ares would help plot our a war between amazons and centaurs, again, to keep you away."

      "If this is true, we are foolish for considering the fight," Cheiron replied. "But we have no proof, no proof at all."

      Ares appeared next to the three centaurs, unseen to them and everybody around them. He was never more nervous, scared that his mother's clever plot was unfolding. But before he could do anything, maybe twist the centaur's mind and even Jason's mind, the goddess of the hunt and protector of the Amazons, Artemis appeared before him.

      "Artemis!" Ares gasped. The god of war materialized for everyone to see, and everyone turned their attention to him. Everyone also saw Artemis. The tall, stunning redhead crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at her half brother.

      "Come to confess your crimes, and those of your mother?" Jason asked.

      "What crimes?" Ares gasped.

      Artemis grinned. "Setting this whole thing up, to take Cheiron away from Corinth and his students trial. You should be ashamed!"

      Sneering at the protector of the Amazons, Ares materialized away. Everyone let out a collective sigh as the war wasn't going to take place it seems.

      "Thank you, Artemis," Cheiron gratefully acknowledged to the goddess. "But why? Why would you uncover the truth to the centaurs?"

      "The amazons are under my protection. I only recently discovered the plot set in motion by our stepmother Hercules. I don't want my amazons to go to war for no reason. especially with the centaurs. I'd do whatever it took to stop this fix of a war from starting. I've already told the forces of Melosa, Sarina, and Cyan to back down and about Ares and Hera's ruse. They have stepped down."

      "And we have too," Kalepius added, nodding to the goddess of the hunt.

      Artemis nodded back. "I must go. Cheiron, go here with Jason and the Magistrate. I'll send you three back to Corinth to save some time . . . the trial is about to come to a close, and only one more witness can be questioned."

      "Then its time to get Iolaus freed," Cheiron said.

---

      Minutes before the final witness would be sequestered, outside of courthouse, Hercules was approached by the furious Cordonius and Versae.

      "I was told you wanted to talk to me," Cordonius said.

      "I have a favor to ask of you," Hercules answered rather vaguely.

      Cordonius' face turned red as he slapped Hercules across the face. "You pledge your love to my daughter," He spat vehemently, "then you defend her killer! How dare you ask me for a favor."

      "Call this farce of a trial off!"

      "You should be thankful that Iolaus will soon be dead," Cordonius said rather frankly. "He ruined your chance to marry that whelp of a daughter of mine!"

      Hercules sighed. "Funny words coming from you, the person who most strongly objected to my love for your daughter. Of course you never loved your daughter, or else I wouldn't have fallen in love and had to protect her! Now you don't mind the love, since it could be useful to your bitch goddess' needs to ruin a lifelong friendship and kill an innocent man, my friend, Iolaus!"

      "If your friend goes free," Versea threatened, "your stepmother will haunt you forever."

      "She will no matter what," Hercules said stiffly. "Just another thing up her rear."

---

      "Does the defense have their final witness?" The Judge asked impatiently as the trial resumed for its final moments. Iolaus sat nervously, none of his bones not shaking, as he came to terms that there was a chance he could die.

      Waylan was hesitant in his reply to the Judge. "I believe we have out last." Looking over his shoulder, Waylan was made a bit nervous when Hercules shook his head that Cheiron hadn't arrived yet.

      Suddenly, Jason ran into the court room. "Your honor!" he said breathlessly.

      "King Jason, where have you been?" the Judge asked. "I assumed you weren't interested in your Kingdom's affairs and just flat out left your responsibilities here."

      "Not at all, your honor. The Magistrate came to me with some relating news, and with the centaur, Cheiron."

      Much to Iolaus' relief, Cheiron then walked into the courtroom and up to the witness bench. Because the bench wasn't made to accommodate a centaur, the centaur had to stand next to it instead.

      The Judge looked straight at Jason, almost threatening. "Need I remind you the King of Corinth cannot take part in trial, except in the position of a inactive overseer. "

      Tensius laughed under his breath, sitting back comfortably in his chair. "I agree, your honor."

      "Wait!" Waylan strongly objected. "The centaur was our last witness, the one you said we could have. I am sure there must be an explanation."

      The Magistrate spoke. "I was leaving town for a morning ride when I saw Cheiron. We went to the centaur colony a few miles to the North and he'll explain the rest . . . I assure you though we only went to Jason to report what we say, nothing else."

      The Judge nodded in agree with. "I believe you Magistrate. Now for the final witness, Cheiron."

      Waylan walked up to sequester the centaur: "Cheiron, wise and honorable member of the community for years now. One of respect in our fair city. I can only ask, perhaps, what it was you were doing at the centaur colony when your student was on trial for supposed murder?"

      Cheiron explained, "I had gotten word two days ago that war had broken out, or was about to break out between the centaurs and the amazons. You know, the age old rivalry between us. I needed to return to the colony, to meet with Tyldus and Kalepius. Only when it was almost two late did the goddess, Artemis, appear to us and reveal that Ares, the god of war, had set this whole battle up to take me away from my student and his trial."

      Tensius stood up, his face dropping in disbelief. "Objection your honor, objection! Were supposed to believe the gods are involved in all of this, in the trial of a mortal they aren't allowed to mix in? I object, dammit!"

      "Objection overruled, counselor Tensius," the Judge firmly disagreed. Firmly, he looked straight at Tensius. "Based on what he said, the gods only warned of a war, not this trial. They weren't directly involved in coming here and acting as witnesses, so I can't not include what happened, a historical event, as evidence."

      Waylan nodded respectfully. "That'll be all, your honor, for our final witness."

      Walking back his chair, Waylan crossed paths with Tensius.

      Tensius snickered. "Old man," He bickered in a whisper, "thank you for delivering our victory to us!"

      "On the contrary," Waylan rebutted, "your arrogance is going to deliver our's right to us. Better luck next time." that said, Waylan sat down casually in his chair.

      Tensius slammed his hands down on the witness bench, looking straight into Cheiron's eyes. "If the gods didn't want you to testify, Cheiron, what reason would they have? Are you implying one of the gods killed Megaera?"

      "Yes I am."

      "But do you have proof?"

      "Only proof is what I know and feel about Iolaus; that he could never kill someone. I've known him for a few years and he'd never do what he was accused of, never. Jason and Hercules also found a symbol of a goddess in Meg's room. A goddess Meg ceased to follow long ago." Cheiron held up the peacock feather. The courtroom gasped. No one could challenge the word of the King.

      "This is preposterous!" Tensius shouted.

      The Judge firmly told the lawyer, backing him off the centaur, "Enough chancellor Tenius, enough. I ask you sit down." For a moment the Judge paused, collecting his thoughts on the entire case to make a ruling. "I think we've reached the closing argument here and my decision has been reached."

Act Five

      There was complete silence and no movement in the courtroom. Not even a person scratching or pricking at their skin, or someone whispering something to their neighbor.

      "Though the murder weapon, Iolaus' dagger, was enough to convict him of the crime," the Judge told everyone, "the absence of Academy headmaster, Cheiron, and a compelling testimony from him backed up by the Magistrate, I have no other choice but to believe that perhaps it wasn't Iolaus who killed Megaera, but rather a god or some immortal that decided to set him up." Judge Nagel pounded his gavel firmly on the bench. "I find the defendant, Iolaus, free of all charges. Case dismissed!" The gavel pounded, this time to affirm the Judge's choice.

      Iolaus sighed, for his was finally free. And so did all those with him.

      Watching all this transpire, unhappily, from his chamber on Mount Olympus was Ares. Letting out a frustrating scream, Ares pounded his hands on a marble table. "Damn them!" He cursed out loud, the curse echoing off each wall in the god's home in the heavens.

      "You are the damned one!" Hera shouted, materializing behind her son. Using a luminous blue sphere of godly power, Hera struck Ares hard in the chest, and sent him across the chamber, the war god hitting his back against the wall, a painful blow delivered to him. Not only was the god of war in pain, the surge of power had turned his skin charcoal black in areas and his hair was sticking up like spikes.

      "This is your fault. Because you tried to lure Hercules over to our side!" Hera shouted vehemently.

      Still in some shock from the blow, Ares staggered himself up to his feet, brushing himself off in the process. "My fault! It could have worked ifyou had let me use the Furies!"

      Bitterly Hera replied, "Perhaps, but I wasn't willing to take chances." Letting out a hopeful sigh, the queen of the gods said, "Of course there is always next time, maybe not as greatly plotted out, but there will be a next time."

      "Oh there will be, mother." Then Ares looked out the window and down at earth, where Versae and Cordonius where quickly fleeing from Corinth. Looking back at his mother, Ares asked her, "What about them?"

      "They are loyal to me, and always will be. But even the most loyal deserve punishment when they present you with a loss."

      Ares grinned, plotting up some punishment. "And I think I have just the punishment in mind, a kind of mad punishment if you will." Ares paused, then shouted out, "Furies! I'm callin' in that favor."

---

      The funeral pyre burned brightly in the autumn sky, on the shore of the beautiful lake, as the sun slowly descended into an orange ball behind the mountains.

      Alcmene sang a Grecian burial song. Cadets mourned the loss, alongside Hercules, Iolaus, Lilith, Theseus, Feducious, Cheiron, and Jason.. Hercules was closest to the pyre, a few tears falling down his cheeks.

      "You were special, Meg, very special. Part of me misses you, the times we could have had and the life you could have finally lived. But part of me knows your at peace now, in a place where nobody can hurt you." Hercules sniffled. "I love you, Meg, but its time to let you go."

      As the pyre continued to burn, more tears fell from Hercules eyes. Iolaus laid his hand on Hercules' shoulder in a comfort. This time, unlike many other's lately, Hercules didn't resist. He had let Iolaus back into his heart.


EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
KENT SIMMONS & TERN O'BRIEN

Credits

Co-Starring

Cordonius: Terry Batchelor
Versae: Ilona Rodgers
Tensius: Ian Hughes
Judge Nagel: Bruce Hopkins
Alecto: Asa Lindh
Tisiphone: Annmarie Dennis
Cullar: Siaosi Fonua
Tyldus: David Aston
Kaleipus: Paul Gittins
Fedicious: Ross Duncan
Warden: Michael Daly
Majistrate: Norman Forsey

Creative Team
Barb Soden
Kalina
Kaya
Kent Simmons
Melody
Pelee
Tern O'Brien

Edit and Proof Read
Pelee
Tern O'Brien
Tracy Viader

Special Thanks To Ed Naha
Mrinda Jez
Saderah

Technical Assistance
Jose Estreda

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no means want or intend to infringe copyrights of the characters and the television series.

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